PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS)
-- Children of all ages will be able to track Santa Claus on his annual journey, thanks to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The "NORAD Tracks Santa" website, www.noradsanta.org, is up and running. The site features a holiday countdown, games and daily activities, video messages from students around the world and more, officials said, and it is available in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese.
Official apps also are available in the Windows Store, Apple Store, and Google Play so parents and children can count down the days until Santa's launch on their smartphones and tablets. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus will also offer tracking opportunities; Santa followers just need to type "@noradsanta" into each search engine to get started.
Starting Dec. 24 at midnight, Mountain Standard Time, website visitors can watch Santa make the preparations for his flight. Then, at 4 a.m., trackers worldwide can speak with a live phone operator to inquire about Santa's whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723), or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NORAD's "Santa Cams" also will stream videos as Santa makes his way over various locations.
NORAD Tracks Santa is possible, in large part, due to the efforts and services of numerous program contributors, officials said.
The program "began" in 1955, when a local media advertisement directed children to call Santa direct - but the number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center. NORAD has carried on the tradition since the command was created in 1958.
Santa's Countdown Calendar and the Santa Cam videos will feature music by military bands, including the Naden Band of the Maritime Forces Pacific, the Air Force Academy Band, the Air Force Band of Liberty, the Air Force Band of the Golden West, the Air Force Band of the West, the Air Force Band, the Air Force Heartland of America Band, the U.S. Army Ground Forces Band, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Band, the Air Force Band of Mid-America, and the West Point Band.
New to this year’s program are Bing, HP, iLink-Systems, Kids.gov, Microsoft's Windows Azure, BeMerry! Santa, and SiriusXM. Returning collaborators include the 21st Space Wing, Acuity Scheduling, Air Canada, American Forces Network, Analytical Graphics Inc., Avaya, Citadel Mall, Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council, CradlePoint, Defense Video Imagery Distribution System, the Federal Aviation Administration, First Choice Awards and Gifts, Globelink Foreign Language Center, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Meshbox, the National Tree Lighting Ceremony, Naturally Santa's, the Newseum, OnStar, PCI Broadband, the Pentagon Channel, RadiantBlue, Space Foundation, TurboSquid, twtelecom, UGroup Media, Verizon and VisionBox.